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Mary Agnes Donoghue
Hollywood. 1937. The Golden Age of Cinema. Six women, who come to Hollywood with the dream of becoming famous, find themselves working as stand-ins to the glamorous stars of the era. They gather at their local watering hole for a birthday celebration where they share their hopes and dreams with the bartender Jack, the ringmaster of the "stand-in" circus. During the course of one evening, a new stand-in is introduced to the group, instigating a turn of events which will change their lives forever. Written by
The concept of the movie is a good one, a group of "stand-in's for cinematic legends get together to celebrate the birthday of one of their own, fails to work. On a dramatic level, it's very stagy (mostly because the movie is an adaptation of a stage play.) It's basically another "Boy's in the Band" or "Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean." The script is cliched and over the top-Sammi Davis'[Jean Harlow's stand in] monologue at the end is particularly awful, as was the playwright's decision to make her southern and give her this "Carrie's" mom type of Southern gothic back story. The actors do fairly well with what they are given, and some ineteresting points are made about these women basking vicariously in their star's glory. For example, Greta Garbo and Bette Davis' stand ins duke it out over who's star won an Oscar, and Mae West's stand in tells of pretending to be Mae and signing autographs.
Historically, this film is a mixed bag. The stand ins are made to confront their own career's mortality when the death of a major star occurs (The film is set on June 7, 1937-the day Jean Harlow died.) Unfortunately, the film does not use historical facts to build drama-Jean was actually sick for about 10 days before she died, so her stand in would have been in limbo for all that time waiting for Jean to get better, that would have given the film more dramatic intensity. But Jean's last unfinished film is used to create friction, when Rita Hayworth's new stand in wants to use "Saratoga" to catapult her own budding career. The other major issue with history is the image presented of Jean Harlow...Sammi is impersonating her circa 1932, not circa 1937 (Jean stopped being a "Platinum Blonde" in 1935.) I know that this is nit picking, but they couldn't even get that right. Sammi looks like a tragic drag queen, and sports a terrible Southern accent.
I would only recommend this film to die hard fans of Jean Harlow and Hollywood's golden age. Dramatically and Historically it's of poor quality, but has some value for Harlow fans.
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